Dear Charlotte: Kidney Failure

Written on January 12th, 2017

Dear Charlotte,

Some people don’t understand how a cat can be so important in my life. Some people don’t understand why I have twice as many pictures of you on my phone than any of my human friends. Some people don’t understand that I would do anything for you – truly anything – the same way I would do anything for my parents or my boyfriend or my roommates. But the fact that these people don’t understand only gives me confidence in my decision to give you more of my time than them.

I don’t remember life without you, kitten cat. I was barely three years old when Santa brought you at Christmas time, and to this day you are the best gift I have ever received. I can’t help but wonder if you are the true reason I adore the holiday season so much; after all, any time of year with you is a time I remember fondly.

Though I am nineteen now and away at college more often than not, our relationship has resisted any change. You still share my bed every night that I am home. You still climb on my lap within seconds of me sitting on the couch, meowing to be pet like the queen you know you are. You still sit on the edge of the tub outside the shower as I wash my hair so that my body remains in your vision, even if it’s blurry through the glass door. You still run to greet me when I get home. You still groom my hair as if I am one of your own kind. You still show me such kindness and love.

But though our friendship has remained steady for over sixteen beautiful years, the truth is that something is changing, baby. You have kidney failure.

That’s why you have been feeling so tired and weak, why you’ve been losing weight, why your cat chow hasn’t sounded as good lately. That’s why we’ve been trying to get you to eat special-smelling wet food and soft treats, offering them to you at every chance we get. That’s why you’ve had to go to the vet each weak to get fluids injected into your body, because we refuse to allow dehydration to set in. That’s why we’ve been spending more time petting you and coming to check on you as you sleep in various cozy places around the house. That’s why things feel different.

You’ve lost over two pounds, baby. And you didn’t have a lot to lose in the first place. Your blood is anemic and 75% of your kidney function has ceased. It’s scary, I know. I’m scared too. But I will comfort your anxiety in the only way I know how: by speaking calmly, softly, without pause, to tell you that you can trust me.

We are doing everything we can. Some cats can live with exactly what you’re dealing with for years – and they can do so comfortably. It’s all about managing it and paying attention to your blood work, and that’s exactly what we’re focusing on. I know you hate trips to the vet, but those kind people there are helping us make the best decisions for you. They are speaking to us the same way we speak to you: calmly, softly. And we need them.

This is a scary ride, baby girl. But we are here for you through it all. You’ve had sixteen beautiful years and it is my hope that you have many, many more – but when you become too tired I promise I’ll be there for that too.

You are my best friend. Always.

All my love,